how to modernise this passage

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Feja85

New Member
italian
hi!!
I need your help!!.. I have to modernise a text from the 16th century, it is a passage from the play Gammer Gurton's Needle. Can you suggest me a good adaptation, because it has to sound as if it were a 21st century passage??

Than, this is the passage:

And Tib wringes her hands, and takes on in worse case
With poore Cocke theyr boye they be dryuen in such fyts


Thank you!!!
 
  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Hello Feja85 - welcome to WordReference :)

    I have to ask, because we can't do this for you, which particular sections of the text are causing you problems?
    What is your own understanding of the text?

    And if I may ask a supplementary question ... is this play part of an English literature course in Italy?
    (We have had questions from Italy about it before :))
     

    Feja85

    New Member
    italian
    hello!!
    well, I think it deals with a beggar. He arrives at a house, and here he finds that the people are very sad.
    In the passage which I cannot render in contemporary English there is a woman, Tib, who is wringing her hands, but I do not know if a possible adaptation coul be:

    "and Tib is wringing her hands, and poor Cocke takes on the worse case
    of their boys, who have been driven in such sad situation"

    I am not sure that Cocke refers to a person, I don't know, there's something wrong in the word order...it doesn't sound English......
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    I am not sure that Cocke refers to a person, I don't know, there's something wrong in the word order...it doesn't sound English......
    That's because it's not English Feja - not in the modern sense anyway. You couldn't use those words today (even with the modern spelling) and be correct. In terms of "Cocke" - yes I think it refers to a person. This is because it has a capital letter and he's refered to as their boy (boy as in servant I would guess). Also the surname sounds like Cook which is a common English surname today (although I don't know if they're related). Also I find it a believable name to give to a young-man character because it is also reminiscent of "cock" which has associations with penis and with young Casanovas.
     
    Last edited:

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Thank you Feja :)
    That helps to sort out which bits are causing you difficulty.

    Tib wrings her hands.
    She "takes on" ...
    This is an example of the archaic phrasal verb "take on" = to act or behave. She takes on in worse case suggesting that Tib is behaving as someone who is very upset.

    The next line is a new statement.
    Cocke seems to be the name of Tib's son.
    They are driven mad (in such fyts-fits) by their boy, Cock.

    It sounds to me like a typical case of parents becoming stressed about the behaviour of their child :)

    I am no expert in this kind of language, but that's how it seems to me.

    Edit: I hadn't thought of Cocke being a servant rather than a son, but of course their boy could very well be their servant rather than their child.
     

    teksch

    Senior Member
    English - American
    If I remember the play correctly the plot is that the lady (Tib) has lost her needle. She can't sew the trousers of the workman. Tib and her son, Cocke, are both distressed about the lost needle - a very needed and expensive tool in that age. The text seems to support this notion -

    And Tib wringes her hands, and takes on in worse case
    With poore Cocke theyr boye they be dryuen in such fyts


    And Tib wrings her hands and carries on, along with Cocke, their boy, they are driven into fits.
     

    Feja85

    New Member
    italian
    teksch,
    yes, you remembered exactly the plot of this play!.. but I think it is better to change "are driven into fits", because I don't think it is fluently used in contemporary English, isn't it?

    what about this solution:

    'And Tib wrings her hands, she feels very upset
    with her boy Cocke, because thery are in such a sad situation'

    In this adaptation, have I change too much? or have I changed the meaning of yhe original text?

    thank you so much!!!!
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    teksch,
    yes, you remembered exactly the plot of this play!.. but I think it is better to change "are driven into fits", because I don't think it is fluently used in contemporary English, isn't it?

    what about this solution:

    'And Tib wrings her hands, she feels very upset
    with her boy Cocke, because thery are in such a sad situation'

    In this adaptation, have I change too much? or have I changed the meaning of yhe original text?

    thank you so much!!!!
    Both "takes on" and "driven into fits" describe the behavior of upset people, more than their feelings. Your version seems to focus on their feelings.

    I like teksch's "carries on". I think that's modern. "Makes a fuss" is another, less interesting, way to say it.

    "Driven into fits" would be understandable, I think. "Are beside themselves" might work. It means that they are so upset they can't think straight. "Out of their minds" is another possibility.
     

    pickarooney

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    I like Cagey's "are beside themselves". It sounds both modern and very like how you would imagine the characters to be in the situation.

    I also thought timpeac's suggestion of 'Cocke' meaning 'Cook' might be on the money. The common Dutch surname 'Kok' means 'cook' and has the same pronunciation (apparently) as 'Cocke'. The name does or did exist in Holland and is thought to originate there. But, I also found that a name with the same spelling exists/ed en Cornwall and means/t someone with red hair or rosy cheeks.

    You could call him Ginger Cook :)
     

    teksch

    Senior Member
    English - American
    teksch,
    yes, you remembered exactly the plot of this play!.. but I think it is better to change "are driven into fits", because I don't think it is fluently used in contemporary English, isn't it?

    what about this solution:

    'And Tib wrings her hands, she feels very upset
    with her boy Cocke, because thery are in such a sad situation'

    In this adaptation, have I change too much? or have I changed the meaning of yhe original text?

    thank you so much!!!!
    You have to be careful with the word “with”. You wrote “…she feels very upset with her boy…”. She wasn’t upset with her boy – both she and her boy were upset. If you opt to change the text in the manner presented it should be written, “…she feels very upset along with her boy…”.

    Tib wrung her hands and cried - the emotion showed in her face and tearful eyes. Cocke, her son, also seemed to lose control. Both felt the loss deeply.
     

    Feja85

    New Member
    italian
    thank you for your suggestions!! to everybody!
    After a long meditation ;-) I find a possible adaptation:

    "And Tib wrings her hands. She feels upset along with poor Cocke, and their servants are beside themselves".


    What do you think of this solution? It sounds English? Contemporary English?

    P.S. I found out that "boye" probably refers to servants.

    Thank you so much!!
     
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